Saturday, March 27, 2010

Doubting Thomasina

Do cats believe in God?

I can hear the jokes now—the Great Litter Box in the Sky…the dog’s the devil (spewing high fructose corn syrup everywhere, no less!)...but I know I’m not the only one to ponder this question.

Bing, per the animal communicator, practices feng shui in the apartment, so at the very least he’s an animist. I’m sorry for him that he has to negotiate with the couch, though—totally low on the energy scale. But, to be fair, very accommodating…

We do know that the main character in Paul Gallico’s novel, Thomasina, did have a belief system—in fact, she thought she WAS God. In the movie version, The Three Lives of Thomasina, the viewer gets to ride shot-gun on her cosmological journey:

Technically, she believes in a Goddess—specifically Bast, known to have been worshipped in ancient Egypt, where cats wore bling and ate whatever they wanted off their family’s plates at dinner.

(OMG, you guys! I think that must have been a divine message from another world. Something compelled me to do an image search of Flavor Flav + cat. Why would I be randomly thinking of Flavor Flav on a Saturday morning, even though Flavor of Love is my hands-down, all-time favorite reality show? I always knew he was inherently a good person, not automatically eliminating Somethin that time she, um, eliminated something (Season 2, “Something Stinkin’ in the House of Flav).

Back to Thomasina, “flying wildly” through space, “diving and spinning” in the mists of time. Or is it “midst” of time? I like the latter—if anyone can navigate through the middle of something that has no beginning or end, cats can!

And you can only imagine how I feel about the cats chosen to protect the temple! They do sound like goats, don’t they? But I like goats, so it’s all good.

Music to travel through the midst of time by
Season Cycle, XTC
It’s growing gre-ee-een! ‘Nuff said.
Feel Flows, The Beach Boys
You go, Carl!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Post for Loma P. on St. Catrick's Day

Disclaimers: Holiday mix-up alert! Yes, this is an old Christmas card and yes, this is St. Patrick’s Day. And oh yeah, if any of my coworkers are reading this, they know I totally swiped the "St. Catrick's Day" part of the title.

So..I’m writing this post in honor of my favorite Irish-born musician, Sean O’Hagan, and his band High Llamas. His/their music reminds me of my sweet cat friend Paloma, a pastel calico named for her patchwork fur and cubist face, a la Pablo Picasso. Almost, not quite, one side was gray and the other white. (S O’H has a song called “Half-Face Cat.” You can’t really tell what’s going on in the lyrics, but the Half-Face Cat is all magical, mysterious and beneficent.)

Come to think of it, Loma P’s totally a High Llamas kind of girl. It’s not like all cats are. Puff, for example, was “Walk This Way,” the Run DMC/Aerosmith collaboration. Derrick, I’m not sure yet—I’m thinking possibly show tunes and/or Jimi Hendrix. But Paloma is totally High Llamas—sweet, comfortable, nest-building music. (Yes, I know cats don’t make nests, but she was a Cancer, so a nester by astrological definition.)

Music to remember Loma P. by:
Over the River, High Llamas

Oh, it’s achingly sweet, music you can imagine small and elegant twittering birds, like chipping sparrows, listening to. Simple, meandering, storytelling…cozy rather than showy.

The name, too… Over the River. Paloma died 2 days before the September 11 attacks, and on that day I went to the Bendix Diner (no longer there) on First Avenue, where they would feature original artwork in the booths. The piece in our booth was entitled “Small animals and heavy furniture pass easily through the space-time continuum…” I think of Paloma traveling back and forth from one side to the other, a calico angel who can run and meow at the same time. And who likes Doritos.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hold On to That Fe-EE-ee-e-Line…

If you didn’t know better and heard my cell phone ringtone on a day I happened to be wearing my vintage Escape Tour t-shirt, you might think I’m a die-hard Journey fan. Not exactly. Let me explain, as there are several factors at play.

Back in the day, I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to Journey. Oh no, I listened to only what Creem magazine told me to… Nick Lowe, Boomtown Rats, the Ramones, Ted-freakin’-Nugent (yes, really!) et al. Now I find I really appreciate a certain kind of earnesty (that’s not a word, is it? It’s the quality of honestly being earnest, or earnest X 2.) in music. And in everything, I guess. (I absolutely don't mean to imply that the aforementioned bands aren't earnest. I meant to imply that I was kinda lame.)

But from what I hear (literally), Steve Perry seems to be very much “Let me sing for you” rather than “Watch me sing.” Yes, even in spite of the spandex/tuxedo get-up.

He has a certain graciousness, elegance and wish to please that I also see in those Motown vocal groups (the Tempts! The Four Tops!) who do all those sweet choreographed moves. You may chuckle when you see them in unison (step-turn-step-clap!), but it’s like, Wow…they’re puttin’ on a show! They want the audience to have a good time!

So yeah, I like Steve Perry’s voice, and I don’t even consider Journey to be a guilty pleasure—the original band contained ex-Santana members (instant cred, music snobs, instant cred!) and Perry is a Tenore contraltino. Oh, and he’s got a Siamese cat. Nothing wrong with that.

What’s my guilty pleasure? I don’t think the Partridge Family counts, since the Wrecking Crew played on all those records (six degrees of Good Vibrations separation!). And the Carpenters don’t count either, since they have their own “respected” tribute album .

OK, let’s dig a little deeper, aim a little lower.


I think this may qualify.

Or this.

Or, er…this.

What’s YOUR guilty pleasure? You know you’ve got one!

P.S. I forgot to mention—I’m writing this post in honor of my upcoming trip to San Francisco, original home of Journey.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

And the Oscar Goes to…

My vote for Best Actress? No one else but Thomasina for her balls-out, over-the-top performance in The Three Lives of Thomasina. Granted, the film is from 1964—and judge for yourself, but I’m getting a major tomcat vibe from the classic red tabby who plays Thomasina—but wouldn’t it be great if cats could be nominated for Academy Awards?

I was planning on reviewing this Disney gem here, but I think I may have accidentally thrown out the VHS so I’ll have to wait until I get the DVD. But you can watch the opening scene and see watchya think:


Fun, right? The film is set in Glasgow, based on Paul Gallico’s book "Thomasina, The Cat Who Thought She Was God." And if you think that’s juicy, you’ll love the spaced-out scene in which Thomasina visits Cat Heaven (which looks uncannily like the cover of a Yes album…surprising, you wouldn’t think cats would go for prog rock). Leonard Maltin gave this scene a thumbs-up, too, calling it a “wondrous piece of movie magic.”

Stay tuned for my analysis of this important look at one cat’s cosmological journey, and in the meantime, stay for the tunes…

Music to work the red carpet by (that is, if you were Thomasina, if it were 1964, and if cats were recognized by the Academy)
Donovan, There Is a Mountain
For the Scottish connection, of course. And because I attended Donovan’s workshop on storytelling and mythology at the NYC Open Center, where he suggested that I write animal-themed country songs. Just the lyrics, I mean.)

Teenage Fanclub, Sparky’s Dream
More Glaswegian-borne magic.

P.S. I can’t lie, I’ve seen not a one of the 2010 nominees. I DO love movies, but I’m a little behind everyone else. My most recent favorite is Requiem for a Dream , on which I’m still ruminating.